Bollywood Pickup Lines

29 Apr 2005

At my girflriend’s urging I recently purchased my very first Bollywood movie. I only spent 7rmb on it, but watching it was a three-hour time investment. It was with much trepidation that I started viewing Veer-Zaara.

I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. Pakistan was not portrayed nearly as negatively by Indian producer-director Yash Chopra as I had expected, and there were fewer song/dance scenes than I imagined. The story, while not what one would call “realistic,” was not as predictable as I had expected, either. Overall, it was a very enjoyable experience. (Did I mention Bollywood actresses are really hot?)

The part I found funniest were some of the lines in a song called “Do Pal.” The song starts with a line which goes:

> Just for two moments, the caravans of our dreams made a stop
And then you went your way and I went mine.

Caravans of our dreams? Interesting lyrics. I was put on high cheese alert. My vigilance was richly rewarded. I found the following lines of the song especially amusing when I realized that they could be used as pickup lines! Here they are, copied directly from the subtitles, in English and Chinese:

> Was that really you or was it a luminous sunbeam?
那到底是你还是耀眼的太阳鸟?

> Was that you or was that the monsoon of my dreams?
那到底是你还是梦中的季风?

> Was that you or was that a cloud of happiness?
那到底是你还是一片幸福的云?

> Was that you or was that just a fragrant wind?
那是你还是一阵香风?

> Was that you or were those songs resounding in the atmosphere?
那是你还是在空中回荡的歌声?

> Was that you or was there magic in the air?
那是你还是在空中得魔力?

Sinosplice readers, you have a homework assignment. Get out there and use these pickup lines! Then report back by leaving a comment.

Epilogue:
The astute observer might ask, “what is a post about Bollywood doing on a China-themed blog?” Ah, but I saw a pirated Chinese copy of this Bollywood movie, and even supplied some Chinese translations. How clever of me!

Related Links: Veer-Zaara IMDB profile, political effect of Veer-Zaara, alternate translation of the lyrics from which the pickup lined were extracted (it’s called “Do Pal,” fifth song down)

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. Well, that alternate translation would seem to confirm that “sunbeam” is correct, meaning that “sunbird” in the Chinese version is wrong. A mistranslation from the original language…or a mistranslation from english? I also note that the alternate translation says something quite different for “magic in the air”, suggesting that this idiom has not been translated literally from the original, but the Chinese subtitles also say “magic in the air”.

    Conclusion: I suspect the Chinese subtitles are translated from the English subtitles, which is really not the best way to do a translation if you want accuracy. But then again, perhaps I’m the only one who cares 🙂

  2. Da Xiangchang Says: April 29, 2005 at 11:58 pm

    I have no desire to see a Bollywood movie. I had an ex-roommate who was Indian, and he showed me some of the movies. Wretched, wretched stuff. Pale-skinned Indians dancing around and driving in Mercedes convertibles. You’d think the entire population of India had been bleached and teleported to Luxembourg! Star Trek is more probable than that crap!

    However, it might be because I’m not exposed to great Indian cinema. You can’t only watch Dumb & Dumber and conclude all American cinema sucks. So . . . what’s the most famous Indian movie lately? I’ll go see that.

  3. Da Xiangchang, I’m not sure where you are located but if you are anywhere a Naz8 cinema, they are a good way to check out recent Indian cinema in the USA in a theater setting. I frequent the Artesia location when I’m back stateside:

    http://www.naz8.com/

    The website has the listings of current shows.

  4. Luo Dawei Says: April 30, 2005 at 3:33 am

    We must be careful here. “Fragrant Wind” can have several meanings, especially here in the States. Aspiring Romeo’s might mistakenly accuse thier pick up target of being beset with flatuence. This could end up with our hero getting a slap instead of a phone number. However, should this happen just say “响屁不臭,臭屁不想。”

  5. Anonymous Says: April 30, 2005 at 12:32 pm

    Was that magic in the air, or did you just eat at Taco Popo?

  6. Wanderer Says: April 30, 2005 at 3:13 pm

    Da Xiangchang,

    I have only seen one Bollywood movie and it’s “Mera Naam Joker.”

    A friend recommended it to me and I had hesitations as I am a Caucasian, but after I saw the movie, I was impressed.

    You might find it with English subtitles as I did, and it is a classic with few convertibles and dances. It is a movie from 1970 but the sets are westernized and is unlike the crap all of us think about when we hear “Bollywood.”

  7. Wanderer Says: April 30, 2005 at 3:30 pm

    Sorry about a particular sentence in my above comment. When I wrote, “…as I am a Caucasian,” I meant that I would not be able to relate to the movie, the plot, the scene, language, and customs or the understanding of the overall message of a movie from a country I know nothing about.

    After reading my comment, I think my above sentence gives a wrong impression of looking down upon “Bollywood.”

    I am sorry, I meant no such thing, but what I meant was that I did NOT feel that I was watching a movie that did not make sense.

    I could very well understand the general meaning and I repeat that I was more than impressed.

  8. you can try the latest bollywood surpris3e hit
    “BLACK”

    good news –> NO SONGS

  9. the guy in your movie is Shahrukh Khan. He’s the star in Bollywood. Think of the top ten male leads in Hollywood all rolled into one and you may begin to approach the Khan phenomenon. Dude is everywhere.

    It doesn’t surprise me that this movie doesn’t portray Pakistan so negatively: #1 Khan is a Muslim, so he wouldn’t do such a film, and #2 there’s been something of a thaw going on for the last two years or so.

    Haven’t seen the film and don’t plan to. Bollywood doesn’t do much for me. I’m more into the Tamil film scene.

  10. schtickyrice Says: May 1, 2005 at 4:16 am

    Bollywood is fine, but I tend to prefer Indo-British productions such as My Beautiful Laundrette, Sammy and Rosie get Laid, even Bend it Like Beckham. Some of the crossover productions of late blending both styles, such as Monsoon Wedding and Bride and Prejudice are pretty good too. Does anyone know whatever happened to Bengali cinema since Satyajit Ray? The Calcutta film scene was so much better than Bombay but it’s been pretty quiet as of late.

  11. Da Xiangchang Says: May 1, 2005 at 12:27 pm

    Man, I thought I was a film buff, but you guys definitely know more about Indian cinema than I do. Tamil cinema? Bengali cinema?! WTF indeed! I did see My Beautiful Laundrette and Bend It Like Beckham, however. I enjoyed both, and will check out the recommended Indian flicks. I want to see one movie from every movie-making country in the world.

    I recently saw an Iranian movie called Baran. It was so boring I had to watch it like a miniseries–i.e., a little here, a little there. And the movie was only an hour and a half long. 😉

  12. Bollywood is just the name for Mumbai (Bombay) based films. Most of them are 3 to 4 hours so if you’re watching a bad one it’s agonizing. They’re all love stories, with crime, slapstick, music usually mixed in; once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. Personally, I just like the song and dance numbers, which aren’t always subtitled.

    Lagaan is going to be on TV on May 5 on IFC (Independent Film Channel) in the U.S. and it’s supposed to be one of the better films (I’ve only seen part of it and it looks good) so check it out.

    Bollywood is always talking about how it’s audience is twice the reach of Hollywood at 5 billion people, but I’m doubtful of this figure. Are Bollywood movies popular in China?

  13. I’ve heard that only fairly old Indian movies are popular in China. Back before economic liberalization there were only a few Indian movies that were played over and over on end on television. As for recent Indian movies, judgeing by the import movie collections of my parents and their friends, I don’t think they are all that popular in mainland China.

  14. DXC, that was a completely facetious remark. Tamil film is even more formulaic and derivative than Bollywood. But you have to admit Vijay is a hunk. I wish I could get my pompadour to look like his. There’s this one Russian diplomat in town who is well on his way, though.

  15. Da Xiangchang Says: May 2, 2005 at 8:49 am

    Prince,

    Haha, I had no idea. What’s the Tamil studio called–Tiger Productions? 😉

    Yeah, Vijay’s pretty hot. Forget the pompadour. What about that ’70s mustache? He’s like a buffer, Indian Burt Reynolds.

    About the Indian movie reach claim, I’m willing to bet far more people worldwide have seen Titanic than all the Bollywood movies put together. For better or worse, you ain’t going to beat Hollywood in today’s era.

    But I can’t completely trash Bollywood. One thing India isn’t known for, and it SHOULD be, are its hot women. Some of the actresses and models from India are ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE-LOOKING. I had no idea until very recently. I just saw Salman Rushdie’s wife–Padma Lakshmi–just this week, and I’m like, OHMYGOD! She’s almost worth getting a fatwa put on you.

  16. Tian,

    I wish BBC News wasn’t blocked in China… 🙁

  17. John,

    I have printed it out as pdf file and emailed it to you.

  18. Some Tibetan areas use satellites and really love Bollywood, and Indian music clips. I always found it so surreal to be in China, living with Tibetans in fairly traditional conditions, but watching Indian music clips with English subtitles and Bollywood style…

  19. I tried “Was that you or was that just a fragrant wind?” on a waiter on WishDoing, who I knew for a fact speaks english quite well (he is studying english language).

    He gave me a bottle of sesame seed oil.

    Shrug

  20. Jessica, it’s not true that if you’ve seen one Bollywood movie, you’ve seen them all. Yes, many have a “masala” format like you describe, but within that there’s still a hell of a lot of difference between

    • a socially relevant police movie like “Khakee”
    • a yuppie love story like “Kal Ho Naa Ho”,
    • a richly costumed period piece like “Parineeta” or “Devdas”,
    • a family values movie like “Waqt”,
    • an underworld story like “Satya” or “Company”,
    • a women empowerment folktale like “Paheli”,
    • a hard-hitting political movie like “Yuva”,
    • a child’s look at divorce like “Rahul”,
    • and a comedy like “Munnabhai MBBS”.

    These are just some examples of varying genres.

    Just because you’ve seen all the same kinds of movies doesn’t mean there isn’t a big variety.

  21. P.S. About Hindi films in China today — in addition to Tibet, I believe they are also popular in Xinjiang.

  22. indianguy Says: August 29, 2005 at 6:50 am

    some quality – mainstream – titles are pretty impressive and you will find that great songs add flavour to cinema
    check out:
    SATYA (gangster drama, masterpiece)
    SHOLAY(seventies hit)
    LAKSYA (recent)
    BLACK (recent,no songs)

  23. DXC The indians you saw with pale skin arent bleached. People seem suprised to realise how much indian vary in skin colour and shades. You can have a fair skin indian with blue or green eyes and jet black hair or an african dark skin indian with dark eyes and hair. One of the reasons why indian women are sooo beautiful is because of their features in general.

    Sadly though most indians do look at fair skin to equivalent beauty.

  24. Replying to the guy that said that “One thing India isn’t known for, and it SHOULD be, are its hot women. “…

    India has won several miss world/universe contests in the last few decades. Not that it matters a bit.

    Bollywood should become more diverse. We have a tradition of storytellers, And I believe the public should be rewarded to more complex plots.

  25. Desidude Says: May 14, 2006 at 11:52 pm

    i just wanted to let Jessia know that indian movies vary. i agree that some can be crap, but there are a lot that are VERY good. you can’t say that if you see one you’ve seen them all. That’s a lot like saying that all chinese people look a like. A FREAKIN STEREOTYPE!!!

  26. william Says: July 7, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    i am indian now i am studying in yichun university, china very beautifull country. I like chines movie and hindi move . realy china is a great country. jianxi don’t have many hindi movie. I dont know why.

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